Introduction: Adults exposed to traumatic events during childhood commonly seek medical services, but health care practitioners hesitate to address and assess early trauma despite its known negative health effects. This study examines medical students' perspectives on a brief course that addressed the health care needs of patients exposed to adverse childhood experiences.
Methods: A convenience sample of 20 University of California, Davis medical students from the Summer Institute on Race and Health received 6 hours of trauma-informed care training. The course was delivered in 2-hour modules during the course of 3 days, and included lectures, discussions, and practice. A questionnaire assessing students' perspectives on training benefits, current practice challenges, and necessary resources to provide trauma-informed medical care was distributed posttraining.
Results: From the students' perspectives, this course increased their ability to recognize various clinical manifestations of adverse childhood experience exposure in adult patients. Students said they learned how to ask about and respond to adverse childhood experience disclosures and identify necessary resources to responsibly implement trauma-informed care in medical settings. Students identified provision of adequate resources and links to appropriate treatment identified as common challenges in providing health care to trauma-affected patients.
Conclusion: Study findings illustrate that trauma training can fill a knowledge gap and provide associated benefits for medical students. Initial training may pique students' interest by demonstrating the relevance of trauma knowledge in clinical practice; additional training likely is needed to support skills and confidence.